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Chronic Stress Triggers Bad Eating Habits: Study

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Women under chronic stress are more likely to eat high-fat foods and to feel they lack control over their hunger and eating, say U.S. researchers who asked more than 600 overweight and obese women about their eating habits and the stress in their lives.

The University of California-San Francisco study also found that participants under chronic stress were more likely to rely on "rigid restraint" -- such as skipping meals and vowing to avoid fattening foods -- as a form of weight control, USA Today reported.

"We know from other research that these techniques tend to backfire and people end up overeating and gaining weight," said Elissa Epel, associate professor in the psychiatry department.

The study was presented at a recent meeting of the Obesity Society.

"Chronic stress really taxes people's ability to self-monitor their eating behavior. In our current environment of abundantly rich food, we need every ounce of conscious effort to manage our eating, because eating is an automatic behavior we can do too easily and too often if we're not mindful," Epel said, USA Today reported.

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